HealthMay 15, 2023

Nursing professional development: Benefitting you and those who depend on you

By: Katie Manoy, MSN, RN, CPNP
Professional development is pivotal to the role of the nurse leader during Nurses Month.

The third week of Nurses Month is the time for nurses to focus on professional development. Lifelong learning is essential for all nurses, including those with roles a little further from the bedside. Nurses in leadership roles spend a large portion of time focused on ensuring frontline staff remain current and up-to-date on evidence-based guidelines and best practices so that the highest standard of care can be provided. Nurse leaders support frontline nurses and ancillary staff with formal and informal learning opportunities, certification recommendations, and many additional opportunities for growth.

Yet, how often do nurse leaders critically examine their own professional development and participate in activities that will strengthen their leadership skills and prepare them to better mentor and support others?

A challenge this week for all nurse leaders is to participate in three simple initiatives to ensure that you are maintaining your own professional development to best serve and inspire those who depend on you. Here are a few ideas:

1. Get smarter and learn

Block out time on your calendar this week to complete two learning activities of your choice. Consider journal articles, webinars, podcasts, or other forums. Choose one topic to enhance your leadership skills, like problem solving or communication, and choose another on a clinical topic key to an initiative within your organization The American Nurses Association has an available toolkit to get you started. Invite frontline staff members to participate in the activities with you. Take time afterwards to hear what they gained from the activity and what learning opportunities they would like in the future. Reflect on the knowledge that was shared and discuss how it can be used to enhance care, foster teamwork, or improve patient outcomes. What’s the next step towards lifelong learning for yourself and your team? Plan to continue educational activities throughout the year.

2. Connect with a mentor

All nurses need mentors! Mentors inspire, nurture, challenge, and provide career guidance. Consider reconnecting with a former mentor you haven’t spoken to in a while or approaching someone new that you admire. Some facilities may even offer formal mentor programs to match you with an appropriate coworker. Alternatively, think about participating in an online program such as The American Nurses Association Career Mentoring Program.

Regardless of the route you choose, take the necessary steps this week to ensure you are actively engaged in a mentoring relationship. Before your first conversation examine what you hope to gain from the relationship, and what you have to offer in exchange. Most professional nurses readily accept the role of mentoring and are happy to participate in this type of relationship while sharing time and expertise.

3. Be a mentor to other nurses

Take a moment to think about your team. Identify someone who could benefit from being mentored and plan to become this person’s mentor or facilitate a mentoring relationship with an appropriate match. Functioning as a mentor for a more junior team member provides opportunities to understand the challenges of the nurses at the bedside, and how you can best support them. Remember that being a mentor not only helps shape the nurse being mentored, but also will strengthen your interpersonal and coaching skills.

Participating in professional development activities, like learning and mentoring, is crucial to the role of the nurse leader. Commit to yourself and to your team this week by participating in professional development activities that will increase and strengthen your leadership skills, advance your career, and inspire others to do the same.

Explore Resources For Nurse Leaders
Katie Manoy, MSN, RN, CPNP
Clinical Editor, Lippincott® Solutions, Wolters Kluwer Health
Katie is a nurse with 17 years of pediatric nursing experience, including 10 years of pediatric intensive care experience, and five years in nursing education. She develops and edits clinical content for Lippincott® Procedures.
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